junkYARD 1979 MGB GT Review
An absolute classic! The MG is often touted as being the easy step in to classic motoring.
It looks good, drives well and gets great positive feedback wherever seen.
They are nimble cars, basic to work on, have the tough B series 1.8 petrol engine and there’s plenty of space under the hood.
I love the lines and I opted for the often overlooked GT model which, in my opinion looks better. Okay, so you do not have the option of open top driving, but mine had a Webasto sunroof which opened up the elements nicely.
I cannot remember exactly, I seem to think it was around the 60,000 mile mark when I bought it.
Overview and Experience
One Friday night while alone in the shared flat I lived in I was on eBay…the dreaded eBay!
I started to randomly look through cars, but I didn’t want anything mundane.
Then, for reasons unbeknownst to myself I started trawling through the MG’s in the classic car section.
In terms of pricing, convertibles are more expensive than hard tops and the chrome bumper version more expensive that the plastic rubber bumper versions.
Obviously, with all of this in mind I opted for a hard top (GT) rubber bumper version in shit brown color.
Not only that, it was located miles away and hadn’t really been used much.
Not to be deterred, I was attracted by the good alloys, new tires and wooden steering wheel.
I didn’t even end up going to collect it, the vendor brought it to my parents house and there it arrived in all of it’s 1970’s Russet Brown splendor.
All seemed okay in general, lots of receipts, lots of history and documents with the car including photo’s of a full body shell respray in what seemed like the mid 1990’s.
For the price, I couldn’t really complain.
So, I hopped in the car filled it with fuel and buzzed off to London. All was fine until I hit a traffic queue on the motorway and I was sat in stationary traffic, it was then that I noticed what looked like steam coming from under the hood.
Gutted. I pull off the road and took a look at the engine bay. All was clean and looking in good condition, but there was definitely steam.
Unsure really what to do, I called the roadside assistance and told them my location.
I looked at the gauges on the dashboard and saw that the temp reading was sky high, then it stuck me. The cooling fan wasn’t coming on, I think it had seized.
Once the engine had cooled and the traffic moving again, I restarted it and slowly drove back to London, always reading the traffic ahead so there was a constant flow of cool air going through the grille.
Upon arriving in London I parked it next to the Land Rover on the side of a fairly busy road and tried my best to ignore it.
Obviously I needed to get this fan sorted out, and not having anywhere to try and tool around with it I made some inquiries to see if there would be a suitable garage.
There was, the garage was located about a 5 minute walk away from where I used to live in East London, the Google reviews were positive, so I made a call and booked it in.
When I arrived the mechanic couldn’t have been any more enthusiastic, there were also a number of other classics in the garage ranging from a Triumph Stag to a Bedford camper van plus a couple of others that I cannot remember.
Either way, with money parted and a few fixes complete just in time to travel North for a friend’s wedding.
The car ran like a dream, it had a silencer removed on the exhaust pipe and I have yet to hear a nicer sounding and burbling inline 4 cylinder engine, it was raspy and popped on the over run.
I loved driving this thing, it got plenty of admiring glances even from drivers of exotic machinery.
The only other problem I had with it was a perished hose. I once tried to turn the heater on which was fine but when I arrived home after a short journey I noticed water dripping from the engine bay, I quickly called the mechanic and he diagnosed the problem and said I could take it back to him for a new hose or just not use the heater…I opted for the latter option as it was summer time.
Driving with the Webasto roof folded back was great. The handling was sharp, the suspension and tall sidewall tires nice and comfortable.
When on the motorway I would regularly travel at 90mph which wasn’t an issue for the car at all. I could get the back end out on junctions due tot he skinny tires and went on a few long drives with it, notably to Brugge in Belgium with a friend.
Eventually, after seeing the fate of my Land Rover by being parked by the side of the road and with winter nearing which usually brought the promise of salt on the roads I decided to sell up.
I placed it on eBay and quite quickly someone bought via the by-it-now option.
They contacted me and asked if I could drop it off by Vauxhall. I didn’t mind so agreed, however, I then got the address to head to and it was a bit random.
Undeterred I headed down and then started to get a little concerned when the destination was a small, dimly lit street in an old industrial area with no life in the near vicinity.
A bit panicked I waited until a small Ford Escort van parked up in front of the car effectively blocking me in. Great.
It is also worth noting that Vauxhall is traditionally a gay area of London so here I was thinking I’m about to get bundled in to the back of a van and passed around a group of bears.
Two men got out and a approached and my thoughts actually seemed to becoming a harrowing reality…
These men were big built with shaven heads, at the very least I thought I was going to get mugged.
However, they were actually very pleasant, they restored old narrow boats and barges for the canals and the new owner was going to do a nut and bolt restoration at the yard where he works.
I took the money, turned down the offer of a lift to the tube station and headed off home with a wad of cash in my pocket.
I often regret selling the MG, it really was a good little sports car with no driver aids and a four speed transmission with overdrive, however, leaving it out in the elements would have done it no favors.
MGB GT Problems:
There was the odd niggle being such an old car, the potential for rust was one of them, but realistically I think it was lack of use that had lead to pipes becoming perished.
Once when there was a long spell of particularly heavy rainfall I noticed that the carpet in the loading area was wet and occasionally a buzzer would sound as if you had turned the engine off and left the lights on when opening the door.
The instrument panel bulb had also gone out which meant I had to become good at reading my speed in the dark!